Additive Manufacturing in automotive industry
Automotive industry has been a very early adopter of Additive Manufacturing technologies. In the 80s and 90s AM technologies
were better known as Rapid Prototyping
The use of additive manufacturing or additive layer manufacturing technologies in automotive started with Laminated Object Manufacturing (LOM) and Stereolithography. These technologies were used predominantly for prototyping. Thus the term rapid prototyping was commonly used for AM technologies. Further applications were and pattern making for castings. Withe the rise of polymer powder bed fusion, there was a good uptake for low batch production cars such as super cars and for racing.
In general, AM technologies sped up development cycles, made part iterations faster and more efficient.
Today all car manufacturers do have their own AM technology departments. Those departments usually have a wide variety of different AM technologies and further collaborate with service bureaus to handle overflow work. Every year thousands of parts are produced still mainly prototypes of new designs
This video about BMWs Rapid Technology Center gives a few insides [link]
With the rise of electric vehicles, car manufacturers were facing a strong need
for small test fleets of cars to assess the technologies under real-life conditions.
Batch sizes too small for mass production and possible further iterations to come
made AM technologies the way to go.
Concept cars at an international car show like in Geneva or Detroit usually have
a very high percentage of additively manufactured parts. Low batch numbers,
short lead times and no real-life load cases make AM ideal to realize these projects.
Selective Laser Sintering / Laser Sintering is the technology most used to build parts.
But depending on requirements pretty much all AM technologies are used to realize
these dreams of the future.
High performance and luxury cars
The total number of produced parts is one of the elemental factors if AM is cost-efficient or not.
This is why you may find even under the carbon fiber interior of luxury cars parts made of Polyamide
built by using Selective Laser Sintering technology. Sometimes AM is the only way to realize a new design
or just the only cost-efficient. Swedish high-performance car manufacturer KOENIGSEGG uses
Direct Metal Laser Sintering to produce turbocharger housings.
In Formula One not every part is build in Titanium and Carbon Fiber Composites.
Many parts under the fairings do not need to be made of high-tech material.
But those parts need to have the perfect shape to utilize the space given most efficiently. So when a standard hose clamp doesn’t do the job, it most
likely is built by Selective Laser Sintering or Filament Freeform Fabrication.
What will the future bring?
Car manufacturers and design companies are sketching
the future of cars also in 3D using Additive Manufacturing.
The German company EDAG is pushing the idea of producing cars
additively with concepts like the GENESIS presented in Geneva 2014 [VIDEO]
2015 EDAG presented the Light Cocoon [VIDEO]
Would you like to know more about how AM technologies
can push your business? Contact us